The Deciding Factor: What Determines If a Candidate Will Work Out?

December 21, 2021

The thing to bear in mind about recruiting advice meant for employers is that every organization is different. Some are eager to build a workforce full of diverse thinkers with varied backgrounds and experiences. Others want to nurture a specific culture that appeals to only a select few. But no matter the circumstances, hiring decisions always account for more than a list of qualifications and requirements. Whom you hire isn’t just about the individual. It’s about who they are within your unique framework, hierarchy, and overall ecosystem. 

This is where that age-old conversation around culture “fit” comes into play. By now, it’s well-established that hiring for fit can do more harm than good. Sure, we all want to work with people we like, the ones you want to have a beer with, but fitting in won’t necessarily help your company stand out. Worse actually. People who fit with your current workforce are likely to orbit your existing network. They will probably come from similar backgrounds and bring similar experiences. They might even look alike. All of this can lead to a lack of diversity in your company, with the possibility of introducing unintended bias in your products or services. 

So, if we’re not looking for fit, what’s the deciding factor? How do we determine if one candidate will work out versus another? These are big questions with no easy solutions. Even so, finding the answers starts with your recruiting process because the deciding factor in hiring depends on how well you get to know your candidates. 

Consider leaning on the candidate experience in a way that encourages and empowers candidates to show you their authentic selves, beyond what their resume says. Use your job description as a guide rather than a checklist, looking for candidates who demonstrate the qualities you’re looking for, rather than just the perfunctory years in a given role. Don’t get hung up on where, or even if, they went to school. Going to an Ivy League university doesn’t guarantee that a candidate will work out. If anything, it might be an indicator that they’re in-demand and more likely to leave the second another opportunity comes along. 

Look at candidates as humans who will grow and develop with your company, rather than bodies that fill seats and output work. Use tools that help you get to the real person, not what just they’ve done or where they’ve been. In the long run, fitting in doesn’t matter as much as flourishing.